Monday, 29 October 2012
Avalanches - Human Factors
From Back Country Access - Bruce Edgerly
I have just posted this file from Bruce Edgerly VP of Back Country Access which he presented at ISSW 2012 Alaska. I may be biased but I tend to like the simple approach BCA take to education and they bring a lot to the table, this paper being no exception in my opinion. As mentioned in the paper we have moved forward from good organised rescue (often too late) to the immediate companion rescue which has a bigger impact on reducing morbidity and mortality. The use of airbags will also surely have in impact but I think we might be a long way from these becoming commonplace for all but the serious freerider and alpine touring party. European guides are more often now equipping clients (multiple burials on the uphill part of a tour being unfortunately frequent)with ABS rucksacks.
Phone apps are appearing and could be a step backwards in education as some misguided folks sadly believe these are as effective as a Beacon. While the innovators may mean well, at the end of the day they want to make some money and may be quite ignorant of the reality of avalanche recovery where pinpoint
accuracy is everything to survival and the ultimate airway opening device is a shovel.
Two avlx app examples below
The latter app is undergoing some testing by the Chamonix PHGM/CRS but rightly the rescuers are keen to point out its in early stages and no substitute for beacon, shovel and probe. Given the terrain around Europes highest mountain, narrowing down the search area to even +/- 100m could help narrow down a search area for body recovery saving time. But that's a location app not an avlx app.
I have briefly tested the SnowWhere app (charcoalfrost.com) and its basically just a glorified GPS location device. Accurate to +/- 10 meteres at best, which realistically in a circle is about 300 sq/meters which is a lot of probing, maybe 300+ holes.